Divorce, also known as the dissolution of a marriage, involves the end of a relationship, but many more issues must be resolved at the same time.
Your initial consultation with your divorce attorney will cover many topics. To help your lawyer understand your complete financial picture, it is important to provide the best information possible.
You will receive the greatest benefit from your first divorce consultation if you arrive prepared, with these important financial documents:
- Your Federal and State tax returns. Bring the last two years’ returns you filed either jointly or separately. If your financial situation has changed dramatically in the past few years, several years’ worth of returns may be helpful.
- Bank statements from all accounts held by you and/or your spouse. Since California is a community property state, both spouses have rights to all assets accumulated during your marriage. So even if your name does not appear on a bank account, you may have rights to a portion of the balance.
- Your most recent credit card statements. To fully understand your financial situation, your attorney needs to know how much debt is owed by both spouses. This debt must be addressed while your case is pending to avoid collection actions and a negative impact on your credit rating.
- The most recent version of any estate planning documents. Wills, Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Trusts, or other estate planning documents are vital information for your lawyer to understand how to incorporate or fight those plans.
- Retirement and investment account statements. Depending on the type of your retirement or investment accounts, the law might control how they are divided. Understanding your rights to these funds from the very beginning can affect how you approach a divorce negotiation.
- Real estate deeds and related mortgage information. To properly value a piece of real estate, your divorce attorney will need to know how much debt is associated with the property and how much equity value is available.
- Any pre-marital agreements or agreements entered during your marriage between you and your spouse. Legal agreements entered into before, or even during, your marriage can impact your legal rights at the end of your marriage. Your lawyer can thoroughly examine such agreements to determine their validity and impact on your divorce resolution.
Since every dissolution case is different, you may need to provide other documents to protect your best interests and enforce your legal rights. The information above is just a start, but it will help you cover many topics quickly at your initial divorce consultation.
Divorce cases are very complex and involve multiple aspects of California law. To protect your legal rights to a fair division of debts and assets, child and/or spousal support, parenting schedules, and more, you need an attorney qualified and experienced in family law.
Attorney Deirdre Kingsbury is a long-time family law attorney who can guide you through the complicated web of dissolution laws. Count on Attorney Kingsbury and the entire team at Evans Kingsbury LLP to provide compassionate but tenacious legal representation during this difficult time.